Successful Restoration Project Benefiting Mobile Bay

Cooperation, collaboration, and planning have proven vital to conducting successful restoration in the impaired D’Olive Creek Watershed. The Mobile Bay National Estuary Program (MBNEP), in partnership with several State agencies (ADEM, ALDOT, GSA, ADCNR), local municipalities, and Baldwin County and funded by the Coastal Impact Assistance Program (CIAP) the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund (GEBF), continues to coordinate restoration efforts to address excessive erosion and sedimentation that have plagued this area for decades. The greater D’Olive Creek Watershed comprises the subwatersheds of D’Olive and Tiawasee creeks and Joe’s Branch and encompasses much of the cities of Daphne and Spanish Fort. This area along the Eastern Shore of Mobile Bay is among the fastest growing in Alabama, where agricultural and forested land is being converted to residential and commercial developments. The rolling topography, excessive rainfall, highly erodible soils, and increase of impervious cover (i.e. rooftops, roads, and parking lots) creates an “almost perfect storm” of stormwater impacts resulting in degraded stream banks and erosion which transport excessive amounts of sediment into the receiving waters of Mobile Bay.

With immediate threats to Highway 31 and Westminster Village residences, the need for emergency stream restoration on severely degraded Joe’s Branch subwatershed was recognized and addressed beginning in 2012. Thompson Engineering was contracted to prepare and implement a cutting-edge technology called regenerative step pool storm conveyance. This award winning methodology was successful in slowing stormwater velocity and promoted restoration of downstream wetlands impacted by sediment from degraded stream banks. The project also utilized upstream best management practices to decrease stormwater runoff and performed admirably during the April 2014 floods. Thompson Engineering was retained to design measures to restore the impacted, 1600-foot, downstream portion of this tributary to Joe’s Branch. A construction contract was awarded to North State Environmental who will begin restoration in late February.

In other parts of the watershed, a contract was recently awarded to Goodwyn, Mills, and Cawood to design a restoration strategy for impacted portions of D’Olive Creek. Surveys and geotechnical analyses are currently underway to inform development of the restoration strategy. Construction is slated to begin later this year.

Additionally, The City of Daphne is leading efforts to restore Tiawasee Creek subwatershed using CIAP funding supplemented with additional funds from NFWF GEBF secured by the MBNEP. A request for proposals for restoration planning is set for release in the immediate future.